Gatland has also retained openside specialists Sam Warburton and Sean O’Brien as his flanker combination after their combined efforts in Wellington’s wet conditions.
To say that Anthony Watson didn’t see what was coming last weekend is an understatement.
“I remember everything”, Watson said on Thursday.
Harlequins’ Kyle Sinckler, Northampton Saints’ Courtney Lawes are among the replacements with Worcester Warriors’ Ben Te’o and Exeter Chiefs’ Jack Nowell. I don’t think about the future. So we need to build and be ready for what they’ve got next week.
“Individual people make packs, and when you do your individual role in that, you get a complete pack. Of course they do, because that’s only natural, and that is probably what we have been experiencing at the moment”, said Hansen.
“We’re expected to win every test match and when we win we’re expected to win well”, he said.
Yet Gatland has been criticised for taking his players out of the pre-game bubble and allowing his squad to relax and recharge between Tests while the All Blacks headed straight to Auckland to begin their preparations. Good pressure. You’ve got to get excited about it, it’s some of the biggest games of their lives. It was his debut last week when he came on for Sonny Bill Williams and he was slightly at fault really for both tries.
Coach Steve Hansen has told All Blacks.com they’ve gone with Barrett as the selected wanted a genuine fullback and high ball catcher with another winger who’s a high ball catcher in Dagg. At one stage, the Lions conceded five kickable penalties during a 15-minute spell, and had prop Mako Vunipola sin-binned following a reckless challenge on Barrett.
He has beaten the All Blacks in a test for the first time in his career as head coach of Ireland, Wales and the Lions and even if the Lions are beaten on Saturday at Auckland, the tour will be counted a success. Davies has been the Lion’s best back during the series – and arguably the best player.
They have stayed quiet on whether psychological demons have been banished – Alun Wyn Jones has played this aspect down – but it will give them an almighty morale boost ahead of Saturday’s Test at Eden Park.
The hosts will return to Eden Park – the scene of their opening victory – for this weekend’s hugely anticipated showdown.
The New Zealand forwards have been in fine form this series, showing they should not be underestimated.
Not since 1998 have the All Blacks lost back-to-back Tests on home soil, surely this Lions’ side can’t do the impossible, or can they?
Tew revealed there had been specific interest in Lions supporters travelling at short notice from the Asia Pacific Basin, rekindling memories of when tens of thousands of England supporters travelled to Sydney in a similar fashion for the World Cup final in 2003.
With the Test series level at one win each, the Lions will have all to play for when the final match against New Zealand takes place this Saturday (8 July), with the game kicking off at 8.35am United Kingdom time.